In light of the Obamacare mandate that employers pay for contraceptives for their female employees, the debate has raged about the morality of contraceptives, the impingement upon the freedom of choice among employers on what their health plans will cover, and the costs to the employers and the employees covered under those health care plans. Clearly the dollar cost and liberty issues have taken front and center, at least as reported by the main stream media. It seems that many have joined in supporting the Catholic Church’s position on opposing the mandate but, while the Catholic Church opposes the mandate based upon moral grounds, it would seem that most others that have joined their support are doing so because they feel that compelling an employer to pay for such coverage borders on socialism. What goes unmentioned, for the most part, are the historical and Biblical basis for the Catholic Church’s position against artificial contraception, and the spiritual costs to a society that embraces birth control almost at any cost.
In order to address the push back from the Catholic Church and others, the Obama administration has recently announced that they’ll modify the mandate, albeit vaguely at this point, stating that religious institutions will not have to comply with the mandate. But what about companies like Hobby Lobby who have drawn a line in the sand and stated they will not comply on moral grounds. Is their moral foundation less important than a religious institution’s? Perhaps the Obama administration will see reason and back down on the whole mandate, but in doing so that could well collapse what little fiscal base there is for the Affordable Care Act. But, to not back down will likely result in a SCOTUS decision that would be against the mandate. Back to square one again for the viability of the whole act. For now though, let’s focus on the basis for the moral argument against artificial contraceptives, regardless.
Historically, artificial contraceptives have been available in some form for thousands of years. Mainline Christian denominations all had long opposed the use of artificial contraception. That is, until the early 1930’s when the Anglican Church was the first mainline denomination to advise their members that they were changing their position and that using artificial contraception was no longer a sin. And that’s where the slide in morality began, at least in terms of how the unborn were valued, along with the long, drawn out slide towards the redefinition of marriage and trivialization of procreation as a fundamental pillar of marriage. Eventually most mainline denominations would follow the Anglicans in their redefinition of sin. But the Catholic Church has, and always will consider artificial contraception as a moral issue, because using artificial contraception exhibits a complete disregard of God’s will. Now, before you contraceptive using Christians start criticizing my position in language that is, well, un-Christian, hear me out.
As I just noted above, the Anglicans were the first, but not the last mainline church, to consider artificial contraception as being acceptable. In response to these changing moral positions initiated when Anglicans did an about face on the issue, Pope Pius XI affirmed the Catholic Church’s position on the issue in a papal encyclical, Casti Connubii (Latin for “Of Chaste Wedlock”). This document responded to issues of the time including divorce, contraception and eugenics. Go ahead, expand your horizons, and read the document. For you non-Catholics, no need to fear that you might be converted against your will by reading a Catholic document. But that shouldn’t prevent you with agreeing with it’s assertions, even if you disagree with Catholicism.
Here’s a rather blunt excerpt from the document:
“…but no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.”
You see, what the author is saying is that we, as Christians, have an obligation to uphold natural law. And that law says that we are not to impede God’s will as it pertains to procreation. In doing so, we aren’t just failing to invite God to be a complete part of our lives, we are actually disinviting him when it comes to procreation. It’s one thing to not invite someone to an important event. But to send them notice telling them specifically not to come, well, that’s got to hurt. In doing so with God we reject fully the premise that all life is a gift from God.
Moving further along the road of history, Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical July, 1968, titled Humanae Vitae, which speaks specifically on the moral implications of regulating birth. This encyclical speaks at length about love, conjugal marriage, parenthood and faithfulness in God’s design. All this leads up to the consequences to a society that condones the use of artificial contraception. These observations now appear to be prophetic as what was outlined as concerns in the encyclical, have come to pass. Here’s an excerpt from Humanae Vitae that speaks to what the future held for it’s first readers in 1968. In Humanae Vitae we find:
Grave Consequences of Methods of Artificial Birth Control
17. Upright men can even better convince themselves of the solid grounds on which the teaching of the Church in this field is based, if they care to reflect upon the consequences of methods of artificial birth control. Let them consider, first of all, how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality. Not much experience is needed in order to know human weakness, and to understand that men — especially the young, who are so vulnerable on this point — have need of encouragement to be faithful to the moral law, so that they must not be offered some easy means of eluding its observance. It is also to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer his respected and beloved companion.
Let it be considered also that a dangerous weapon would thus be placed in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies. Who could blame a government for applying to the solution of the problems of the community those means acknowledged to be licit for married couples in the solution of a family problem? Who will stop rulers from favoring, from even imposing upon their peoples, if they were to consider it necessary, the method of contraception which they judge to be more efficacious? In such a way men, wishing to avoid individual, family, or social difficulties encountered in the observance of the divine law, would reach the point of placing at the mercy of the intervention of public authorities the most personal and most reserved sector of conjugal intimacy.
For a far more complete and eloquent summary of this piece of literary history, check out an article written by Dr. Janet Smith.
Within Humane Vitae, and within Dr. Smith’s piece on the subject, we learn that the use of artificial contraception made it easier to disregard our marital vows, facilitating infidelity by reducing the possibility of pregnancy in adulterous relationships. Further, artificial contraception promotes fornication with sex reduced to recreation, rather than its primary Godly purpose of being procreative. Even in the faithful relationships that honor the marital vows, men can lose respect for their wives, reducing her to simply a means of gratification for physical needs. The encyclical further predicts how artificial contraception could be a dangerous tool in the hands of government or public authorities who care little about the moral law, and who may force the use of contraceptives upon everyone.
History shows quite clearly the consequences of society’s firm embrace of artificial contraception, as predicted by Pope Paul VI. Since those prophetic words were published we’ve seen a sexual revolution which has resulted in a society that nearly worships sexual relationships with multiple partners. Infidelity has become the norm. Almost 50% of all children are now born out of wedlock. Rates of divorce have increased exponentially. The concept of marriage between a man and a woman and the nuclear family are constantly under attack. Over 55 million abortions have been performed since 1973 with a very large percentage on women who were using artificial contraception. Homosexuality has come out of the closet and is not only expected to be tolerated, but has moved into the realm of being celebrated on TV and in the movies and within the mainstream media, with those of us standing on moral grounds being accused of unevolved thinking. The Supreme Court has just heard arguments on the constitutionality of laws that prohibit same sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Sexually transmitted diseases have reached epidemic proportions. And, as noted above, fertility is now apparently a medical condition that is to be “treated” at employers’ expense by forcing them to pay for artificial contraceptives, a cost born not only by the employer, but all purchasers of health care insurance via higher premiums. And here I was naïve to believe that it was infertility that was a medical condition that could truly justify medical intervention in many cases. ALL of this is the fruit of a contracepting society.
We’ve clearly seen an avalanche in the decline in morality as defined by Judeo-Christian values over the past 80 years. But what really troubles me is the level of use of artificial contraceptives by God fearing Christians. What is even more troubling is that many of these contraceptive using Christians state that they are pro life. While the negative impact of society since the legalization of contraceptives is quite clear and should be reason enough not to artificially contracept, how does one reconcile the use of artificial contraceptives which are known abortifacients, including “the Pill,” “the morning after pill,” “Plan B,” IUD’s and many others? How does one rationalize using abortifacients that also have a proven history of undermining the marriage relationship? And how does one who truly values their health reconcile taking a daily pharmaceutical linked with some many negative side affects, some of which include death? This is even more of a conundrum when many who use chemical contraceptives are staunch advocates for eating well and who actively condemn the use of chemical in the production of our foods.
I hear of many faithful Protestant Christian pastors preaching on marriage, homosexuality, adultery, fornication, abortion and other sins. Isn’t it time that they start preaching to their flocks about the sinfulness of using artificial contraceptives and how it leads to moral decay and sinfulness which can include chemically aborting their own babies, infidelity and fornication? Isn’t it time to put procreation back into God’s hands and begin rebuilding the sanctity of marriage and the family?